The Terry Kelly Poetry Prize Awards Evening 2020

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The Customs House

Mill Dam

South Shields

NE33 1ES

United Kingdom

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Event description


Celebrating our fifth year the Terry Kelly Poetry Prize for young people from the North East. Commemorating the life of Shields Gazette journalist and poetry lover Terry Kelly the prize encourages young people to try poetry.

We have five categories to celebrate our 5th year.

  • Primary

  • Secondary

  • Post 16.

  • Outstanding Group Poem (NEW FOR 2020)

  • Galvanize Prize for boys under 16 (NEW FOR 2020 encouraging more boys to write)

Awards Schedule

6.30-7.00pm - Opening Act tbc

7.00-7.10 - Who Was Terry

7.10-7.30 – Readings

7.30- 7.40 – Why Poetry Matters with Lauren Aspery

7.40- 7.55 – Awards announced

7.55 -8.30 - Social in Dame Bellas (more readings, poetry games etc)

How do you enter?

  • Write one original poem no more than 40 lines long;

  • Give it a title;

  • Email it to;

  • Include your name, age and gender;

  • If you are entering a group poem it must not have more than 16 authors and you must list them all. So for instance a teacher may enter two poems written by different groups of authors from one class;

  • If you’re under 16 and entering your poem include your parent/guardian’s name and postcode. If you are still at school, college or university, include the name of your place of study and year group.

  • Indicate if you would be happy to get on stage and read your poem. If you are shortlisted and said that you want to read we will be in touch with more information. Please note not choosing to read has no impact on the judges decision.

e.g. 'Crossing the Tyne’ by Paul Smith aged 11, Patty Smith (Mam), NE33 1ES, Year 6 Tyne Junior School, yes Paul would like to be considered to read his poem.

The deadline for poems is 9am on Friday 24th April 2020. Email them to including all the necessary information.

What Does It Mean to Win?

Sophie Barnard won our primary category in 2019 with her poem ‘Don’t Put Plastic In the Sea’. She said, "To win the Terry Kelly Poetry Prize it meant a lot because I want to be a poetry writer so it really boosts my confidence and I can believe in myself a bit more.”

When will Shortlisted Poets Be Informed?

Once you have submitted your poem we ill be in touch to let you know if it has been shortlisted.

However, you can book tickets for the event NOW.

Following feedback from last years event The Takeover Team will be helping plan the ceremony so expect something wonderful perhaps poetry or spoken word performance, music

If you are coming to the awards evening you need to book a place for yourself and any friends and family. If you need a wheelchair space please let us know by sending an email to Learning and Participation Officer

We will be in touch with those of you who have been selected to read out. Don't worry if you haven't, there's still a chance to have your poem heard in Dame Bella's!

Things You Need to Know


This event will be photographed. If you do not consent to having your photograph taken please email and we will seat you in the upper balcony away from the photographer's lens!

The Prizes

Judging takes place on the day of the awards. Winners receive a small cash prize and are invited to record their poem at The CustomSpace at a group session. The date will be confirmed after the ceremony. No alternatives are offered.

Who Decides The Winner

We are yet to appoint our judging panel but Tom Kelly will be our Head Judge.

Tom Kelly – Head Judge

Tom Kelly born in Jarrow has had a varied career from his first job in a Jarrow shipyard Time-Office; to a song writing contract and writing the BBCTV musical documentary Kelly, with Alan Price (of the Animals) and writing songs for a number of artistes including Marianne Faithfull.

He has had six full-length stage plays produced by The Customs House, including wad winning I Left My Heart in Roker Park which has been produced four times. Tom’s musicals, written with John Miles include: The Dolly Mixtures, Geordie, Tom & Catherine, Dan Dare, The Machine Gunners.

In 2016 he was a runner-up in the Journal Culture Awards, in the Writer of the Year category, for Geordie-The Musical, produced by The Customs House in 2015 and reprised at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle in 2017.

2016 also saw his eighth poetry collection Spelk published by Red Squirrel Press. Of late his poetry has appeared in the ground-breaking anthology Land of Three Rivers-The Poetry of North-East England. He was Writer-in-Residence at The Word from March to May 2018.

More recently he has the short story pamphlet The Last Clock Whippet on the Tyne and a short story collection Behind the Wall published by Postbox Press.

For more information on Tom Kelly see


Include your Postcode

You must postcode your postcode due to the number of ineligible national and international entries we receive. The TKPP is for young writers in North East England and is part of the annual Takeover, a series of events programmed by young people for young people in May half term,

Enter One Poem Only

Young poets can only enter one poem. The Customs House make every effort to ensure your work is original. If we suspect plagiarism we will not be able to shortlist your poem. The Customs House can’t accept poems previously entered.


Young poets retain copyright of their work but we reserve the right to publish your work in our TKPP 2020 Anthology and use your poem online and in print to promote the TKPP, in learning resources for schools and to publically celebrate your work.

Tips for Young Poets

Whilst there is no theme your poem should be suitable for all ages. Carefully consider whether you need to use strong or explicit language as this may reduce the chance of your work being selected. Keep your poem under 40 lines.

Editing Your Poem

We will publish your poem left aligned. Where possible we will not edit your poems except to ensure consistency. The more modern method of writing poems is to capitalise with the punctuation in the poem. In other words, this means when you use a full stop, you capitalise the next letter, proper nouns, and other things you would normally capitalise. This makes poems more easily understood by the reader. Poems will be printed in black typeface on a white background.

Why is the Prize Just for Young People?

This is in keeping with the Kelly family’s wishes commemorating Terry. We want to encourage young poets to write and enjoy poetry as much as the many fantastic regional professional and amateur writers do.. If you’re over 25 sorry we can’t accept your poems.

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The Customs House

Mill Dam

South Shields

NE33 1ES

United Kingdom

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